In Search of Shibui

Portland, OR. – Jeffrey Thomas Fine Art is pleased to present HIROSHI OGAWA: IN SEARCH OF SHIBUI, an exhibition of wood-fired ceramic vessel forms that are remarkable for both their shape, tones and texture. There is an opening on Tuesday, September 13th with a celebratory reception for the artist in the Gallery from 6-­8 pm that is free and open to the public.

HIROSHI OGAWA: IN SEARCH OF SHIBUI is an engaging exhibition of a master ceramic artist who has been making exquisite ceramic vessel forms which are timeless and yet reflecting a heritage of craftsmanship when it comes to wood-­firing clay. With the help of the local community, and fellow potters, Hiroshi built a two-chambered wood firing kiln and christened it "Hikarigama", (“the illuminated kiln”). In the 35 years of living in Elkton, Oregon, raising two (now grown) children, he continues to experiment and explore the mysterious and controlled “accidents” in his practice of wood­-firing clay.

Shibui is an aesthetic term prized by the Japanese culture whereby a work of art is made that generates a profound, quiet feeling suggesting depth, simplicity and purity. There is no exact English counterpart for the word, although “austere”, “subdued” and “restrained” all fit. To the Japanese, shibui describes the beauty of inner illumination.

It is this inner essence that I seek in my pottery, a process of the soul rather than a project for the intellect. It is the beauty that the viewer draws out of the piece more than an aesthetic imposed by the creator. 

Hiroshi Ogawa was born in Pasadena, California before WWII, and spent his early childhood in one of America's concentration camps in Gila Bend, Arizona. He started making pottery in 1959 at U.C. Santa Barbara, where he graduated in 1963 just as the art world was beginning to accept and embrace clay as a sculptural material with the work of Peter Voulkos and Ken Price. In 1969, Hiroshi went to Japan to study Buddhism at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan and to study pottery under Azuma, Ken Sensei at a pottery cooperative from 1970­1972. He returned to the United States in 1972 where he set up his first studio in Carmel, California, before moving to Elkton, Oregon in 1981.